Creating “Real-World” Experiences for Your Interns…
For millions of college students across the country, participating in an internship this summer will be their initial transition to the next phase of their lives. A well-structured and meaningful transformational experience often positions the student for future success. Each year I gather information from students across the country through the National Internship & Co-op Study. Every year, one of the key motivators that students indicate as to why they want to participate in an internship is to gain “real world” experience.
This statement tends to be a bit vague and creates more questions than it answers. But there is one thing we can be sure – students want to experience a working environment that most reflects what day-to-day life in the professional world is like.
For the most part, employers accomplish this by just engaging the student in meaningful work through their internship. But what is meaningful work? Well, the answer will differ from company to company and from industry to industry. However, according the students that we have surveyed over the years, “meaningful work” is defined pretty simply – work that is not getting coffee, filing or organizing or spending endless hours typing data into a spreadsheet.
As I already mentioned, most employers who host interns do a really good job is making sure that the experience is not defined by meaningless and mundane tasks. But I think we can take this to a higher level by being more intentional and deliberate in helping each intern define what “real-world” experiences they are looking for during their internship.
Here are a couple of examples of things you can do to make sure that each intern gets the “real-world” experience they are seeking:
One of the most effective ways that you can help interns is to ask them “What types of experiences would you like to have during your internship that will help you to have a ‘real-world’ working experience?”
Through this question, you are engaging your intern to think very critically about the types and qualities of experiences that they would like to have while participating in this internship experience. The answers you receive may vary, but the end result is that you are engaging your intern in developing activities that are most meaningful to them as they explore the professional work world.
Other ways that you can be intentional about creating a real-world experience for your interns include:
- Having them present information at a team meeting.
- Taking the lead in organizing a client presentation or some other external facing engagement (with oversight from the supervisor, or course)
- Presenting the intern with a specific issue or problem that you may be facing and ask them to make a diagnosis and present at least proposed solutions.
- Having the intern do an analysis of a project from start to finish and providing a synopsis of all of the steps needed and people that need to be engaged in the outcome.
Regardless of the types of specific experiences you choose to engage your interns in to help them gain a realistic preview of the world of work, being intentional by asking for their input and creating opportunities for higher levels of engagement is a great way to make this happen!
Do you need some help with your internship initiaitives? Check out our bookstore – https://internbridge.com/shop or complete the fom below:
To learn more about Dr. Robert Shindell, click here.